It seems that in our society, one of the few ways that Americans can be quickly convinced that something is fact is when a credible name says it is so. Unfortunately, those people tend to be celebrities or half-witted activists that are desperately trying to create change, but with a personal agenda attached. So what about someone like Dr. Sanjay Gupta? He comes out last week and reiterates that medical marijuana should be federally legalized. But wait, he’s a TV personality, he’s a celebrity and he could very well have some sort of personal agenda in this matter. The caveat: Mr. Gupta is a doctor, so we should at least give him a listen.
Dr. Gupta spoke in-depth with The Huffington Post on Friday, where CNN’s chief medical correspondent called for a “full-scale federal legalization of medical marijuana in no uncertain terms.”
The doctor opened up about the “refugee families” in Colorado who have moved there so their children can be treated with CBD oils and medications. Treating them with the same medications in non-legal states could land parents in jail and they could have their kids taken away from them.
Gupta said, “In terms of making this legal for medicinal purposes — yes, and there are both very pragmatic reasons and more subjective reasons for that. This refugee situation that is developing, I thought it would be a bit apocryphal, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being led down some false path — but I met with these families and it is real. Are you really going to arrest a person for taking their medicine back to their state? This is not the society that I think most people would think we are and yet it’s absolutely happening. It’s heartbreaking. The idea that people are able to get their cannabis medicine in one state, but not another, defies some of the core principles of our medical system, which strives for an equality of health care in terms of options.”
An article in The Huffington Post also pointed to the op-ed that Gupta wrote for CNN recently, where he reiterated his feelings on the benefits of medical marijuana.
In it, he wrote: “I am more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana. I am not backing down on medical marijuana; I am doubling down.”
You may remember Gupta got international attention last year when he admitted he’d changed his mind on weed. His comments were shared more than half a million times on Facebook, and his documentary “Weed” got Americans who had never seen marijuana in this way to start thinking differently. As for why he wrote his latest piece on weed just eight months after his first, Gupta said, “As with a lot of things, as you start to dig deeper into something, you want to make sure that it continues to hold up, that you’re pursuing threads and that they are leading somewhere. What I found with medical marijuana was that as I dug deeper, that it all really held up. Not only is it real, the mechanisms by which it works are pretty well described and elucidated by a lot of scientists around the world. The therapeutic benefits have squarely moved out of the realm of the anecdotal into science — peer-reviewed science. It doesn’t get sketchier or blurrier or more opaque, it actually becomes clearer as you dig deeper. So my focus has been on medical marijuana, and making it available, as a real option, to needy patients.”
So Dr. Gupta has done it again. His comments on the benefits of marijuana have reverberated through our society and people are listening. But is it his “celebrity” what has helped people’s feelings on marijuana begin to “expand”? Maybe. But it’s also important to remember that although Dr. Gupta is one of cable news’ most recognizable personalities, he was also President Barack Obama’s first choice to be surgeon general when Obama took office in 2009. Being asked to be America’s doctor takes you up a couple of notches beyond celebrity.
Tuesday night on CNN, the second installment of Gupta’s documentary airs. “Cannabis Madness,” shows Gupta focusing on the federal laws that classify marijuana as one of “the most dangerous” drugs, “with no currently accepted medical use.”